Transit Products, Services, and Environments in a Complex System: User-Centered Design Research in Chicago

In support of an integrated systems approach to coordinated transit planning, the Regional Transportation Authority (RTA) has been conducting user-centered design research in order to better understand how people use transit products, services, and environments throughout Northeastern Illinois, and to guide specific improvements. Foundational research on the overall transit experience has included assessments of facilities, on-site interviews, user observations, and ride-along sessions where researchers accompanied transit passengers. The activities, behaviors, and needs of novice riders were distinguished from those of regular commuters. This qualitative field research has helped define rider types and identify opportunities for improving various products and services, especially at decision points where customers may be seeking guidance as they navigate their way from one boarding area to another. In addition, targeted research was conducted with users of interactive products such as the RTA web site and trip planner, information kiosks, and an on-line information exchange for transportation professionals. Research methods included interviews, user observations, and an online survey of 1,000 RTA web site users. Findings revealed typical customer characteristics and goals, the tasks that users were trying to accomplish, and how each product was being used. This user research provides the RTA with a reliable basis for making key improvements to products under development, and for developing regional passenger information design standards. The methods and findings should be of interest to other agencies managing or operating large, complex transit systems.


  • English

Media Info

  • Media Type: CD-ROM
  • Features: Figures; Tables;
  • Pagination: 18p
  • Monograph Title: TRB 85th Annual Meeting Compendium of Papers CD-ROM

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 01031331
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Report/Paper Numbers: 06-2541
  • Files: TRIS, TRB
  • Created Date: Aug 23 2006 7:59AM